The never-ending story from the polygamist sect’s ranch in Eldorado continues to raise debate on a variety of topics. Aside from religious arguments, the state is now taking criticism for the removal of 462 children from the ranch.
Many say the state was acting outside its Constitutional boundaries when it removed so many children from their families based on a phone call from a supposed 16-year-old who said her 49-year-old husband beat and raped her.
Whether the girl’s accusation is true, the state- acting in its best intended interest – should not separate the number of children it did from their families.
The state should show a high standard of proof anytime it interferes with family autonomy. In a traditional removal of a child from its family, the state must have significant interest in the child’s safety and well being before resorting to such a last-ditch resort.
The debate lies between those arguing for the right to religious practice and the state’s interest in protecting its citizens.
Though the case initially looked as if children were being sexually abused, no evidence so far suggests maltreatment. However, the lack of evidence so far is not proof of any wrongdoings.
In an unordinary case, the state had to respond quickly to a situation it believed was harmful to the hundreds of children. From outside it may seem easy to say the state’s decision may or may not be wrong, but we cannot change what has already happened.
As courts, CPS workers, police and other agencies try to sort the situation out, many children should be allowed to rejoin their families. However, that doesn’t seem likely to happen soon.
Making broad, general applications to all the children will solve little. A 5-year-old or a teenage boy does not need to be separated in this situation. And while the state is strapped for resources trying to handle the case, each individual child is not under any threat.